As the Competition Reacts

You know you are having an effect on the factory food chain when they start making things up. The first instance of this was Texas A&M’s claim that they had conducted a study and found that eating grass-fed beef did not change one’s blood chemistry in the least. When their data was demanded, they refused to release it. When the study was leaked by someone in the department, it revealed that the “study” was conducted over 2 weeks and added a grass-fed beef hamburger twice a week during those 2 weeks, the participant eating from the conventional stream the rest of the time. So the participants received 4 four ounce beef patties over a period of 2 weeks and 42 meals. Shame on you for suggesting this was in any respect a fair study, A&M.

The latest false attack claims that grass-fed cattle expel more methane than grain-fed cattle, thus “adding more carbon to the atmosphere”.  So their point is that feedlots are better for the environment than pastured beef?

Let’s consider that proposition.  First, I find the base premise hard to accept. Any cattleman will tell you that grain has to be introduced slowly to cattle in the feedlot, and fed in combination with hay, in order to avoid killing the animal. The corn creates so much gas in their system - a system designed for grass not grain - that their stomach will literally swell with gas and asphyxiate them by crowding out the ability of their lungs to function. So I doubt the verity of the narrow claim made, i.e., that grass-fed cows create more methane gas than corn-fed.   But let’s accept their premise for the sake of discussion. When looking at the whole picture, is it possible that corn-fed is more environmentally beneficial than grass-fed?  Corn doesn’t simply appear at the feedlot. It has to be planted, cultivated and harvested first. That is all done by diesel tractors. It is then transported to a storage facility where it may be either ground or ground and cooked, all of that requiring the burning of energy. Then it has to be transported to the feedlot where it is distributed to the cattle with - you guessed it - a gas or diesel powered vehicle.  Consider also the fertilizers and herbicides required to grow the corn and the highly concentrated animal waste deposited at the feedlot. When the soil cannot use all that is deposited, and it never can, it ends up in our waterways and acquifers.  In the meantime, the grass-fed cattle have been grazing contentedly in their pastures. Are we really expected to accept this malarkey from the feedlot folks and their PR departments?

JVF